Why have so many feminists given up the fight? I’m sure at some point many decades ago, feminism was about the idea that everyone has intrinsic value. If not, that is what it should be about.
Instead we have feminists saying attachment parenting isn’t feminist enough because some people have to work, which I disputed. We have feminists saying that breastfeeding is patriarchy trying to keep us at home. We have feminists saying that sleep training is what good feminists do. We have feminists saying that a woman who stays home with her kids “should be prepared to answer for that decision.”
Now I don’t care what you have or haven’t done. That’s your decision, but in fact anyone who knows about human psychological development will tell you these are the types of things – warm, close, gentle relationships early in life – that create the type of people who will be allies in the fight for universal equality. I very much doubt it will create people who openly mock a man for dancing just because he’s fat. Nor will it create people who would think its funny to laugh at a picture of a baby with a chromosome disorder.
We need to teach our children to have compassion for others. This means acknowledging their struggle as real as our own. It means caring about the plight of others, even when they don’t affect us, but also when they do so negatively. I hope to be able to impress upon my own kids that everyone has their own fight in life and that the worse the person treats us, the harder their own history has been on them. It’s called empathy, and my gosh is there a huge deficit or what?
The homeless are forced out of every crevice where someone might see them. It’s not hard to find someone chanting “get a job” as if that’s an easy proposition for anyone but the most privileged. There are fewer and fewer jobs, now being taken not by outsourcing but robotics; Amazon doesn’t have many employees working in their warehouse anymore, driverless cars will probably take over taxis and other driving jobs in a few years and there is even a software program that can write articles for the New York Times now. Still, austerity insists we must all get a job.
The new universal tax credits system in the UK will mean that to receive tax credits, the primary carer must work around their kids school schedules; home schooling doesn’t seem to be an exception. Once the youngest is 13 the primary carer must work full time; teens don’t need a carer around as far as the government is concerned. They will top up a low wage, they will pay for some of childcare – which they’ve made worse with increased ratios – but they have no interest in helping a parent to take care of their own children. All because of the fear someone might take advantage and just keep raising kids. I say, so what?! Let them get on with it.
All this while we’re preparing kids at school for the same. We push them to get the best grades over anything else. As one boy put it in the NPR, his parents let him quit volunteering at the soup kitchen because he didn’t like it, but he’s not allowed to stop going to school because he doesn’t like it. I wouldn’t force a kid to volunteer if he wasn’t feeling good about it, but the example exposes real values.
While the GDP is growing and higher than ever, the average Jane and Joe’s salary hasn’t seen an increase in decades. So what’s the point of all this austerity? It’s not for us. It’s not for our kids either. It’s only good for 1%ers.
And yet, we still have people like Jessica Valenti and Sheryl Sandberg saying that it’s not good enough to simply show up at work. We need to really go for it. Go for what? Zero empathy anywhere? Because that’s where we’re headed. I’m unsure if it’s feminists or neoliberalism, likely neoliberal feminists along with their counterparts the patriarchs, but we are becoming a nation of narcissists.
It couldn’t be because both parents are forced to put their work first could it?
Featured image courtesy Michael Coghlan
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